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New ACL surgery offered in Reno could shorten recovery time

New BEAR ACL implant (KRNV){p}{/p}
New BEAR ACL implant (KRNV)

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A new ALC knee surgery is getting patients up and moving faster due to a brand new procedure — and Reno is on the forefront.

It's called the BEAR implant which stands for Bridge Enhanced ACL Repair. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted marketing authorization in December 2020. Just this year, Swift Institute in Reno became the first in Washoe County and likely first in Nevada to do this surgery.

"There's 400,000 ACL injuries annually and that leads to a lot of surgery because the ACL doesn't heal very well naturally or on its own," said Dr. Brian Gilmer who does the BEAR procedure at Swift Institute.

Instead of a full anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction, an implant is inserted instead of using harvested tendons for the repair.

"We're using a scaffold that allows the patient's cells to grow and migrate across it, recreating their own ACL rather than traditionally replacing it with a graft taken from somewhere else in their knee or from a cadaver," said Dr. Gilmer.

Nevadans get ALC injuries, Dr. Gilmer said, most commonly from skiing, lacrosse, and soccer.

Breanna Alosi was the first patient at Swift Institute to receive the new BEAR procedure. She tore her ACL at Sky Tavern on February 12 when she said a kid slid into her causing a low-impact injury. She got the surgery on March 3. Alosi was a little worried being the first patient for the procedure.

"That was my main concern from the beginning was I'm the guinea pig and who else has done this, how much research is there out on it, but it seemed like the best option after all the chats we had about what we were going to do," the mom of two young kids said.

ACL recovery for the traditional surgery, that's been around for decades, requires about a nine month recovery. Limitations can be long lasting.

"What's exciting is that some of the early studies have really encouraged us because it seems that you can have a faster recovery, quicker return to daily life activities and may have a higher chance of returning to a sport at the same level," said Dr. Gilmer.

Alosi said she is now on a social media group with other people who have or will have the BEAR procedure. She said they support each other.

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"I call them my BEAR buddies," she said.

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